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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eco Fashion in the spotlight

Eco fashion is becoming a trend these days. The constant increasing demand for eco fashion, from organic textiles to recycled wearables, is part of a growing global environmental awareness.

I have seen many different reasons why people label their garments as eco fashion. Here is an overview:

Clothing out of organic fabrics.

Organic fabrics are produced and manufactured according to the international certification standard for organic agriculture.

This certification takes in account the use of only natural products for growing the fibres. When processing the fibres into fabrics or yarn, all the conventional chemicals used, such as bleaches, dyes, anti-statics, anti-creases, fire retardants and so on, are replaced by natural and non toxic products.

Organic cotton starts to be readily available, organic wool and hemp are following. The image shows a felt shawl/poncho in organic merino wool, dyed with natural dyes.

Use of natural materials.

Some natural fibres can be used in eco fashion even if they are not organic. Cotton is definitely excluded because the huge pollution created by the culture of conventional cotton, as well as the social work conditions of the employees.

Natural fibres are renewable and thus sustainable. Some of them are wool, silk, hemp,linen and bamboo . Most of them can be produced easily without the use of chemicals, however it is always best to check each situation.

-Clean wool could be easily produced, however many big farmers use toxic pesticides for treating their animals. Wool can be processed naturally, however this is often not the case.

-Silk can be grown organically as the silk worms are fed exclusively on mulberry leaves. The harvest can create some opposition because the silk worms are killed to collect the silk. Chemicals are used for degumming the silk cocoons and further manufacturing of the fabric.

-Hemp is a very eco friendly crop, it doesn't attract many diseases and on top of that improves the soil tremendously. Again we need to look at how the processing is done.

-The same applies for linen as for hemp.

-A new material has been introduced to the market and is rapidly gaining popularity. It is the soft bamboo fibre. The bamboo production is certainly very sustainable, it regrows fast and can be grown totally without chemicals. Unfortunately, now comes the tricky part. To process the bamboo fiber and make it into the soft fabric that everyone likes, a lot of chemicals need to be used.

Bamboo clothes are mostly considered eco friendly and it all depends where you draw the line.

Recycled materials.

Turning used clothes into new ones has become very fashionable. Not only do we reduce waste, less energy is needed to produce new fabrics. This is something I grew up with. My mother transformed her own clothes into new outfits for us.

When the recycled fabrics are dyed, it is important to choose for eco friendly dyes.

Again it is up to everyone's own choice whether wearables out of synthetic fabrics can be considered to be eco fashion.

The social environment.

Eco fashion is manufactured in socially responsible work places, where the employees are respected and paid fair wages.

Here is an overview of the benefits of eco fashion:

-less pollution because of absence of chemicals.

-soil improvement through responsible agriculture methods.

-organic clothing is stronger because it hasn't been treated with harsh chemicals that destroy the fibres.

-recycled clothing also reduces the energy needed for new production and reduces land fill.

-workers have the opportunity to work in a socially responsible environment.-natural fibres let the body breathe naturally.

What does eco fashion mean to you? What questions do you ask before buying clothing?Feel free to comment and add your suggestion or experiences.

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